The Miami Marlins are coming off a 100 loss season and watching them fire sale all of their high salary players was tough to watch. The Marlins have been very disappointing in their new ball park and after trading away Yunel Escobar, Jose Reyes, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, Emilio Bonifacio, Edward Mujica, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, and Hanley Ramirez, there wasn't a lot left to be excited about. The Marlins were pretty much left with RF Giancarlo Stanton and SP Jose Fernandez to build around in the coming seasons, or until they are traded away prior to free agency.
1B: Garrett Jones
2B: Rafael Furcal
3B: Casey McGehee
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
The most recognizable name on this list is Rafael Furcal who has made his mark in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and St. Louis during his solid MLB career. Furcal will transition to 2B after playing his career prior to Tommy John surgery at SS. Furcal will lead off this lineup and it is the perfect situation for him as he gets a maximum number of at bats during his one year contract. Furcal took 2013 off to recover from Tommy John surgery, but he is a career .281 hitter with a career .346 OBP. If Rafael can regain some of his prior form he could be a nice addition to the Marlin offense.
One of the additions in the offseason for the Marlins was bringing in 1B Garrett Jones who was part of the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. Jones has spent the last 5 seasons in Pittsburgh and if there is a guy that knows what it takes to turn around a perennial loser it is Jones. Garrett didn't have an excellent 2013 as he hit .233 with 15 HR and 51 RBI, but he brings some post season experience and a good work ethic to the Marlins.
Third base is up for grabs, but it looks like Casey McGehee has the edge over Greg Dobbs. Last season McGehee revitalized his career in Japan batting .292 with 28 HR and 93 RBI in 144 games and if he can bring over some of the success he had overseas, he could be another solid pickup for the Marlins.
SS will be manned by Adeiny Hechavarria who is a high caliber defensive player who still has a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball. Hechavarria is just in his second season out of Cuba and even though his offensive numbers have a fairly low ceiling, his defense brings value to Miami. Last season in 148 games Hechavarria batted .227 with 3 HR and 42 RBI.
Starting C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Backup C: Jeff Mathis, Rob Brantly
Perhaps the best addition to the Marlins was bringing in World Series Championship catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Even though Jarrod wasn't a major reason for Boston winning the title, he certainly played an important role as the starting catcher. Last season Saltalamacchia had a career year averaging .273 with 14 HR and 65 RBI. I expect a dip in home runs this season at a tougher ball park for Jarrod, but he is a huge improvement on what the Marlins had behind the plate in 2013.
Rob Brantly and Jeff Mathis combined to form arguably the worst offensive tandem at catcher in the MLB last season. Whoever wins the backup catcher spot is up for debate, but either option brings a great falloff in offensive production from Saltalamacchia.
LF: Christian Yelich
CF: Marcell Ozuna
RF: Giancarlo Stanton
Christian Yelich brings a lot of upside potential to the LF position on the offensive side of the ball and it looks like he could start the season batting in front of Giancarlo Staton, which means a lot of hittable pitches. Yelich debuted last season and in 62 games he performed well batting .288 with 4 HR and 16 RBI. A lot of the offense's potential rests on this kid's shoulders and it will be interesting to see if he is ready for the big stage.
Last season Marcell Ozuna made his Major league debut with the Marlins and even though he had issues with right-handed pitching, he showed some promise batting .265 with 3 HR and 32 RBI in 70 games. His season was ended early by a thumb injury, but he is looking forward to getting back on the field in 2014. Ozuna was a power hitter in the Minors and it will be interesting to see if he can start driving the ball more in his second big league season.
Giancarlo Stanton has been put in the spot of the franchise offensive player and for better or worse he will man the third spot in the lineup all season baring injury. Stanton is already entering his fifth season at just the age of 24 and he is learning players have to grow up fast in the Marlins' organization. I'm sure Stanton would like better protection in the lineup, but all Miami has brought in are Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bat behind him in the order. Last season Stanton batted .249 with 24 HR and 62 RBI in an injury shortened 116 game season.
1SP: Jose Fernandez
2SP: Jacob Turner
3SP: Nathan Eovaldi
4SP: Henderson Alvarez
5SP: Tom Koehler
The Miami Marlin pitching staff is anchored by potential perennial Cy Young candidate Jose Fernandez who is coming off an outstanding rookie campaign. Fernandez is just 21 years old, but he is already the franchise player for the Marlins and he has to be great if the Marlins are going to keep their heads above water. Last season Fernandez went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, 187 SO, and a .98 WHIP. These numbers will be tough to match in 2014, but this kid has the stuff to do it and everyone should come to see this him pitch because he might end up being trade bait in the future much like many Marlin aces before him.
Jacob Turner was an up and coming high level prospect out of the Detroit Tigers' farm system, and even though he wasn't anything special for Miami in 2013, at just 22 years old he still has the ability to become a solid middle of the rotation type pitcher. Last season in 20 starts Turner went 3-8 with a 3.74 ERA, 77 SO, and a 1.44 WHIP which has to be improved upon.
Another young gun in this Miami pitching staff is Nate Eovaldi who is hoping to build off a solid close to the 2013 season. Eovaldi is a hard thrower and with many pitches in his repertoire he can be a solid option in the middle of this rotation. In just 18 starts Eovaldi went 4-6 with a 3.39 ERA, 78 SO, and a 1.32 WHIP.
Say hello to another young Miami Marlin Pitcher as 23 year old Henderon Alvarez enters his fourth major league season and his second season with the Marlins. Alvarez closed the season throwing a no-hitter, but this was more of a blip than a trend. Alvarez doesn't have a go to pitch to get out lefties and he fares much better against right handed lineups. In 17 starts Henderson went 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA, 57 SO, and a very respectable 1.14 WHIP. Alvarez is another largely unproven commodity in this rotation that has some upside.
Koehler isn't a great option for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he looks like the early favorite over young prospects Brian Flynn and Kevin Slowey. Tom has experience on his side as he is 27 years old, but he has pitched just 2 seasons in the Majors. In 23 starts last season he went 5-10 with a 4.41 ERA, 92 SO, and a 1.36 WHIP. Koehler has a bad SO-BB rate and his numbers last season weren't very respectable considering the park he pitches in.
1RP: AJ Ramos
2RP: Mike Dunn
3RP: Carter Capps
4RP: Carlos Marmol
5RP: Dan Jennings
6RP: Arquimedes Caminero
The setup men will be Dunn and Ramos, and even though these guys don't have the best command they do a good job of getting out impatient hitters. The guys that will take the ball from the starters, other than Capps, are liable to give up walks and that could become an issue for the middle relief. Lineups that are patient should do well against this unit, but this unit also has high potential.
CP: Steve Cishek
Cishek saw his job go to closer by committee last season after a tough start, but in his last 50 1/3 innings he has given up just 1 HR with a 1.43 ERA. Cishek has good command which is always important for a closer. Last season Steve had a 2.33 ERA with 34 SV in 36 opportunities, along with 74 SO, and a 1.08 WHIP. Cishek brings a solid option to the 9th inning and that is something this team needs if they are going to try and stay out of the basement of the NL East.
It appears the Marlins will lose less than 100 games this season, but unless the Mets or Phillies perform under their expectations this is likely the fifth place team in the NL East. This offensive lineup really has one proven threat in Stanton and that isn't enough in my opinion for this team to make a run like Oakland had last season. The pitching staff should produce solid numbers in their pitcher friendly park, but that is a double-edge sword because their offense is also liable to put up low numbers. Stanton, Fernandez, and Cishek are reasons to be hopeful, but it should be another losing season for the Marlins.